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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


U.S. Congressman Bill Cassidy, M.D.
(R), Baton Rouge

Congressman Bill Cassidy is a lifelong public servant. He is a physician, a teacher, a community leader, father, and husband.

As an associate professor of medicine with Louisiana State University, Bill has provided care for uninsured patients and taught doctors in training at Earl K. Long Hospital in Baton Rouge for the last twenty years.

In addition to his work at Earl K. Long, Bill co-founded the Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic, a clinic providing free health care to the working uninsured through an innovative virtual approach that partners needy patients with doctors who provide care free of charge. Bill has also pioneered school-based public health programs to vaccinate children against Hepatitis B. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Bill led a group of health care volunteers to convert an abandoned K-Mart building into an emergency health care facility, providing basic health care to hurricane evacuees.

Raised in Baton Rouge, Bill is the fourth son of Jim and Betty Cassidy. He attended Tara High School, LSU, and LSU Medical School. His father sold life insurance. His brothers are Jim, David, and Steve.

He met his wife, Laura Layden Cassidy, during his medical training. Laura is also a physician. She was formerly the Chief of Surgery at Earl K. Long Hospital and later entered private practice treating breast cancer. Bill and Laura attend church at Chapel On The Campus. They have three children, Will, Meg, and Kate.

Before his election to serve Louisiana’s Sixth District in the House Representatives, Bill served in the Louisiana State Senate. In the Louisiana Senate, Bill helped pass a sweeping ethics reform package, opposed efforts to give state lawmakers a pay raise, and sponsored legislation to ensure an equitable distribution of health care resources for uninsured Louisiana patients statewide.

In the U.S. House, Bill serves on the Energy & Commerce Committee and its subcommittees on Health; Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade; and Environment and the Economy. He is a member of the Republican Study Committee and serves as an Assistant Whip for the House Republican Conference.

Current Topic


     08/18 - The Power of Reading

How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?
The ability to read sets the foundation of who we are and what we can be. Through reading we expand our world, learn new things and increase our base of knowledge. In fact, a parent’s reading level is the greatest factor in a child’s academic success. Children who can’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

In Louisiana, 20 percent of adults are illiterate – five points higher than the national rate. How is Louisiana combatting its illiteracy problem across generational lines? How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?

Louisiana Public Square: The Power of Reading looks for answers and explores the value of lifelong reading through the lens of the PBS series The Great American Read Wednesday, August 22 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recorded Tuesday, August 14 in the Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion at Baton Rouge Community College.)

Our panelists are:
- Linda-Marie Barrett, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)
- Rebecca Hamilton, MLIS; Louisiana State Librarian
- Danny Heitman; Journalist and Louisiana author
- Miranda Restovic, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH).
- Gary Robertson; Adult Literacy Advocates

The program features interviews with John Cavalier, owner of Cavalier House Books; Gary Robertson, Executive Director of Adult Literacy Advocates; representatives from the LEH PRIME TIME intergenerational reading program, and Superintendent John White with the Louisiana Department of Education.

LPB CEO Beth Courtney and Robyn Merrick, Southern University VP of External Affairs, host the show.

Louisiana Public Square can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

This episode of Louisiana Public Square is underwritten by Community Coffee’s Cash for Schools Program, the Louisiana Forestry Association, LSU Press and the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Authors Round the South.

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Special Presentation


     05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Coming Soon!


     09/18 - Revisiting Reform

Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended?

Recent Topics


     07/18 - Preventing Suicide

How is Louisiana addressing its suicide problem?

     06/18 - Louisiana: Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?  (ENCORE)

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     05/18 - News About the News

How can viewers distinguish between fact and fake news and is social media blurring the difference?

     04/18 - Balancing Eldercare

How much does Louisiana spend on nursing homes versus home and community-based care?
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